Thousands of pensioners in Leeds losing out on help to pay council tax

Thousands of pensioners are losing out on help to pay their council tax in Leeds.

Monday, 24th February 2020, 5:00 pm

Charities warn that vulnerable households may be missing out on the vital support they are entitled to, as the number of elderly people accessing support across England continued to plunge. Low-income households and pensioners in England can apply for a discount or exemption under the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

In Leeds, 21,560 pensioners were claiming support in the three months to December, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show. That was a 19 per cent drop compared to the same period in 2015, meaning 5,152 fewer people received help.

The scheme replaced the nationally-administered Council Tax Benefit in 2013, giving individual local authorities the power to decide who is eligible for support and what discounts to offer. But Turn2us charity says vulnerable households are struggling to navigate an increasingly complex system.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Campaigns manager Varuk Kanish said: “Not since the poll tax have so many low-income households had to pay local taxes. The localisation of council tax support schemes has increased the complexity of an already confusing system.”

However, the government says it has protected pensioners, and they continue to receive the same level of support as under the previous system.

Fewer working-age people were also claiming council tax support in Leeds. Between October and December, 41,304 working-age people claimed a discount on their tax, down from 45,763 in 2015.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said: “We’re committed to levelling up across the country with councils in England having access to £49.2 billion next year.”